Originally the bedroom project of Californian Justin Paul Vallesteros, Craft Spells started out in 2009 getting the odd mention on blogs now and again. Now joined by Frankie Soto, Jack Doyle Smith and Anna Luxx Ryon, Justin’s vocals and lo-fi synth have become a fully fledged sensation and has outstripped the rank of ‘project’.
Going from strength to strength, Craft Spells synth pop has picked up critical acclaim, with Idle Labor scoring a 7.7 on Pitchfork. Lyrically, Idle Labor is quite a lonely album despite how upbeat some of the songs are – what I like to call ‘the happy kind of sad’. The 2010 single ‘Party Talk’, for example, is perhaps the album track you are most likely to dance to this summer but has lyrics like: ’Every night’s the same. All my friends are here to celebrate. I don’t look for love, that’s enough. Don’t want to start this party talk.’
The album wouldn’t be out of place in a 1980′s coming-of-age movie soundtrack. ‘Given the Time’ sounds like a new romantic revival but strangely I don’t hate it. If you are familiar with Craft Spells, you will look forward to a development in their style and song writing, with the band taking their rightful place alongside Summer Camp and Thieves Like Us.
Their sound is very likeable and the songs are easy to pick up. Idle Labor will definitely be a big part of my summer soundtrack. ‘You Should Close the Door’ has bassy edge that reminds me of White Williams, while ‘Scandinavian Crush’ really reminds me of The Drums. Justin’s dreamy vocals are reminiscent of Morrissey;just listen to ‘From the Morning Heat’ and you will see what I mean.
I do worry about the lastability of Craft Spells, however. The songs flow well into one another and there are no filler tracks on the album. This is, however, what concerns me. Only ‘Scandinavian Crush’ and ‘Party Talk’ really stood out for me, with ‘After The Moment’ reminding me of a weaker version of Mystery Jets. The rest of the tracks failed to impress, personally. The album is a little listless, capturing conversations with lovers and moments at parties well but failing to convey the emotion so well represented by Craft Spells lo-fi/chillwave ilk. However, the album clearly had a lot of love put into it, and this shows in the song writing and delivery of each line. The tracks will grow on you with each listen, I promise.
For fans of: Thieves Like Us, The Drums, Summer Camp
Idle Labor is available for download on iTunes on Captured Tracks.
Words by Shaun Mooney. This post originally appeared here.